In one of the most poignant stories to emerge from the ongoing crisis faced by the migrant workers, a toddler was seen trying to wake his dead mother at a railway station in Bihar, in a video that is being shared widely on social media.
The woman, who had arrived at Muzaffarpur station from Gujarat in a special train for migrants on Monday, allegedly died of hunger and extreme dehydration after spending long hours in the heat.
The clip shows the baby playing with a piece of cloth partly covering his mother's body as a train announcement is made from the loudspeakers.
NDTV reported that the woman had fallen sick during the train journey due to lack of food and water.
On Tuesday, a 10-month-old boy suffering from fever and breathing difficulties on board a Shramik Special train died in Uttar Pradesh. The family alleged that the railways did not arrange for a doctor despite their repeated pleas.
In yet another incident, a 45-year-old migrant worker aboard the Shramik Express train died on Saturday. His nephew, who was accompanying him, said that the victim had not eaten anything in the last 60 hours.
The pain and suffering of lakhs of migrant labourers — marching hundreds of miles to reach their native places with scant belongings and scanter provisions — have shaken the collective conscience of the nation.
Despite the relaxation of inter-state travel rules and the introduction of trains for migrant workers, thousands are under extreme distress as they fail to access government relief schemes and have no jobs or savings.
As part of a survey carried out by the Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN), a network of researchers, spoke to over 11,000 migrants from Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Jharkhand, from March 27 after the lockdown came into place on March 25.
The data, updated till April 13, revealed that close to 96 percent of migrant workers had not received rations from the government, while another 70 percent had not received any cooked food.
Despite directives on daily wages by the government, 89 percent had not received any payment from their employers during the lockdown. Most of them have been paid only till March 22 and were asked to return only after the lockdown is lifted.